The upper limit of the scheme for recognized seasonal employers will increase by 1,750 to 12,850, which will provide the necessary work for the horticultural and wine growing industry in New Zealand, says Social Affairs Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway.
"The RSE New Zealand Scheme is a groundbreaking initiative launched by the previous Labor government in 2007 to help address the shortage of labor in some of New Zealand's most important industries, while providing economic support to our Pacific neighbors
"The horticultural and wine growing industry has seen significant growth in recent years. In industry, the apple or kiwi fruit grows by about 70 percent since 2015, and the 2018 wine year is 2.6 percent more than the year before.
"However, this growth was accompanied by a significant labor shortage across sectors and regions, especially in the past year. It is expected that this will continue as producers will anticipate 2,600 workers needed to help the industry."
Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says that, although it is important for them to have access to RSE workers in the top season, they are equally important to maintain their commitment to the employment of New Zealanders.
"There are some horticultural employers, such as Turners & Growers (T & G) in Hawke's Bay, who have hired thousands of New Zealand and MSD customers over the years. With its industrial partnership with MSD, T & G offering flexible working hours and pastoral care for customers. The model is a hit with workers, and businesses are booming Hawke's Bay.
"The Ministry will continue to develop industrial partnerships with horticultural companies engaged in training and jobs for New Zealand citizens and with increased skills of the domestic workforce."
Iain Lees-Galloway recently issued four challenges to RSE employers at his annual conference:
• "First: make the industry more attractive to New Zealand workers by providing better wages and conditions;
• "Two: build more living spaces for workers to alleviate local housing pressures;
• "Three: greater responsibility for supply chains and labor operators to help eradicate the exploitation of migrants; and
• "Four: transforming the horticultural and wine-growing industry from low-cost industries into industry based on quality, productivity and high value products.
"Employers' and industry commitments will be supported by the continuous monitoring and coherence of activities carried out by immigration New Zealand and the labor inspectorate.
"In 2019 the government will carry out a comprehensive review of the RSE scheme in order to provide improvements, while remaining in line with the original purpose of the scheme," says Iain Lees-Galloway.